Altered Circumstances

Nasrudin and a rich merchant were riding together through the desert.

‘Is it not so that God rewards riches with riches?’ said the merchant to the Mulla. ‘Look at my ravishing riding boots made with the best leather money can buy, and your holed and tattered sandals. Look at my jewelled turban, and the rags you wear wrapped around your head. Look at my silk coat with handcrafted buttons and gold thread, and the patched cloak that hangs from your bony shoulders. Here we two are: you with a few measly possessions in your moth-eaten saddle-bags, I with spices that will make princes and kings weep with pleasure. And yet, we can ride together through this place, I on an Arab stallion, you scrabbling in the sand on a silly little donkey…’

At that moment the merchant’s musings were interrupted by the arrival of a band of robbers, who yanked him from the saddle, kicked and beat him to the ground and rode off with his cargo and mount.

‘How extraordinary it is,’ mused Nasrudin, ‘ that my circumstances have not seemed to change, but yours are dramatically altered in the space of a few minutes.’

From ‘The World of Nasrudin’ by Idries Shah

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